By Dale Neal • Special to The Smoky Mountain News
Evangelist Billy Graham — a spiritual guide to generations of American evangelicals, a globe-trotting preacher who converted millions to Christianity, and a confidante to presidents — died today at the age of 99.
Graham personally preached the Christian gospel to more people on the planet than any other evangelist in the 2,000 years of Christianity.
A highly anticipated public hearing that drew double the usual crowd to a Canton Town Board meeting wasn’t as contentious as it could have been, but the fight over a proposed Brunch Bill ordinance isn’t finished yet.
A planned vote on whether to approve Sunday morning alcohol sales was delayed Oct. 16 when the Jackson County Commissioners decided they should hold a formal public hearing before deciding the issue.
At a Friday night football game against Murphy, the Franklin High School cheerleaders took to the field like they do before every game to display a spirit banner for their team’s players to run through.
The inherent paradox in American government is that a nation founded upon Christian values by Christians provides for the separation of church and state in its governing charter.
While that is de jure status quo, it is far from de facto; customs, holidays and laws with a basis in Christianity remain at the core of the American tradition, often with implicit if not explicit government support.
Prayer as part of government meetings has a long — and often contentious — history in this country, and a recent court ruling on the issue certainly won’t settle this debate.
This case does, however, add one more brick to the legal foundation that’s been built by respected judges since this country’s inception: prayer by those in official capacities is fine, but can’t trumpet your specific sectarian religious beliefs at the expense of those who may have a different faith.
Praying in public has never been something politicians in Swain County have shied away from and it’s unlikely the recent court ruling will change that ritual anytime soon.
Within recent memory, public prayer hasn’t been part of official meetings of the Jackson County or Sylva boards of commissioners.
With all the controversy and uncertainty about the right and wrong way to do it, the town and county governments in Macon County err on the side of caution when it comes to praying at meetings.
Just days after an important ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on legislator-led prayer, Haywood County and its municipalities quickly moved to comply with the specifics of the ruling, but fell dramatically short in complying with the general principles that underlie the separation between church and state in American Government.